ECONOMICS OF DYSTOPIAN
I’m sure you guys have heard the old joke that the FBI probably has a bunch of writers on some watch list based on their Internet history? Well…after writing Finding North, I’m pretty sure I’m among those ranks.
(I’m innocent, I swear!)
Research is one of those things about being a good writer that makes the job much less glamorous than it sounds. You can sometimes get away with less of it if you’re writing a contemporary college romance (but even then, you’re probably looking up geography, rent, local color, etc), or a fantasy world full of magical beings (but that takes almost as much time to create from scratch as traditional research does). But unless you want reviewers screeching at you about how it’s completely unrealistic that there would be a bowling alley like the one you described in Los Angeles (true story, but one for another day), you need to do your homework. Thankfully, the magic of the Internet means it can all be done from the comfort of your own home.
A “modern dystopian” like the Compass series is sort of the worst of both worlds, as far as how much research it required. I knew I wanted Kat and Reynan’s world to resemble our own a lot more than typical dystopian societies like the Hunger Games or Divergent, which meant keeping the state lines intact, and the expectations of realism with regards to location that comes with that. At the same time, though, I also had to invent an entirely new system of government/economics (twice!) to justify how both sides of the country were keeping their head above water.
I probably should have just bought a US map and pinned it over my writing desk; I’ve lost track of how many times I had to google “US states map” to look up some detail or another. Even though the bulk of the story takes place in Las Vegas, I had to chart out a fictional war, which means I spent a lot of time looking up the names of various small towns (and their sizes) in the Southwest, particularly around the Colorado-Kansas, New Mexico-Texas border area.
As for the “new economic system” thing—well, in that case, I had to throw up my arms and enlist the experts. Said experts being my father, who was an econ double major in college, and my senior-year econ teacher. I have about five pages’ worth of notes on the way life works in both the Alliance and Alistair’s territory, most of which never made it onto the page in Finding North. (Some of it will probably appear in later installments, and I even have a Compass series novella planned that takes place years before Kat and Reynan met, and gives a lot of in-depth backstory on how things got to the way they are in Finding North. But shh, now I’m getting ahead of myself…)
As for why I’m probably on an FBI watch list…the devil’s in the little details. How to throw a knife, how to throw a punch, the effects of certain kinds of drugs, where on the body you can shoot someone to cause damage but not kill them…
Hey! It’s a dystopian. I never promised it would be all smooth sailing.
Fellow writers, sound off in the comments. What are some of the most interesting things you’ve had to research for a novel?
Want more info?
Title: Finding North
Author: Allyson Gottlieb
Genre: New Adult Dystopian
Length (print): 301 pages
Sometimes you have to lose everything to find what you’ve really been looking for.
Katherine Zova spends her days patching up soldiers in the Alliance’s army while praying for time to heal the wounds on her own broken heart. Crushing loss numbs her waking hours and nightmares threaten her sanity when she closes her eyes. All she wants is to be free, but instead she’s forced to trade one cage for another.
Reynan Caverly wears his uniform only out of loyalty to his father, who in his quest to build a new America has little time to spend with his only son. Indifferent to his sensational Las Vegas lifestyle, all he wants is to feel a connection with someone. A seemingly impossible request—until the day he finds a girl with haunting eyes in a group of captured Alliance soldiers.
Some wounds cut too deep to deal with alone. Sometimes only love can heal. But in a country torn apart by civil war, nothing comes without a price. And for Kat and Reynan, falling in love may cost more than they’re willing to pay.
About the Author:
Growing up, Allyson was always the girl with a big imagination and even bigger dreams. A California girl by birth, she currently lives in Boston while attending Emerson College. She has a slight addiction to Starbucks, eyeliner, and chocolate—and, of course, books.
Connect with Allyson~
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